Meet The MBA Class Of 2020: Profiles In Courage

Braden Schrock

Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University

“Introverted and learning-oriented Navy officer who enjoys binge-watching The Office in rare free time.”

Hometown: Farmington Hills, Michigan

Fun Fact About Yourself: I met my wife while I was on deployment in Korea!  Best deployment ever.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Michigan – Aerospace Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: U.S. Navy / Special Operations Advisor to the commanding admiral of a Carrier Strike Group

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: While deployed to Korea, I led the first long-term partnership with South Korean Navy SEALs by integrating with their unit and creating a comprehensive training plan, consisting of curriculum, objectives and milestones, resulting in their increased proficiency and ability to partner with U.S. forces and guaranteeing future growth between our bomb disposal unit and theirs.  It was tough because our professional cultures were so different. By fully immersing my team in the Korean training schedule, organizing informal events such as downhill skiing, American-Korean soccer games, and nights drinking soju with our counterparts, we were able to develop the relationships that enabled trust and buy-in to the new partnership.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why?  They truly embody the “pay it forward” ethos that Kellogg espouses. From the students who helped me with my application, to those that reached out to me after my acceptance, to the Kellogg alumni who called to tell me what a life-changing experience Kellogg is, I’ve never felt so excited to be around a group of people. I currently have the members of two separate campus clubs at my disposal to answer any questions I have – and every time I’ve asked for help, someone has been there. These are the kinds of people I want to be around, and who I want to emulate.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? I’ve already mentioned it – the “pay it forward” ethos that encourages service to others and impact on the world. As an active-duty military officer, I believe in the mission of the U.S. military, and it motivates me every day. I want to work with people who also have conviction in what they are doing, and Kellogg fosters such convictions in everything they do.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? Like most admitted students, I have a severe case of FOMO right now, but at the moment I’m really looking forward to the Net Impact Club or one of the 12 social impact clubs at Kellogg. I’m really excited to see how my experience in the military can be brought to bear on new situations while continuing to serve a higher purpose.  My background is unique, and I hope to be able to have a unique impact!

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career?  I’ve noticed during my career that the military suffers from certain problems that the private sector seems to have already solved. I want to learn from the best that the business world has to offer, then take those lessons back to the Navy.  I jumped at the chance to continue my education when it was offered to me – I’m at the perfect inflection point in my career where with added responsibility and authority, I’ll be able to create lasting change.  The MBA has no equal in terms of flexibility and breadth of experience it offers; it can be applied in any leadership situation, in any industry. Bringing a Kellogg MBA back to the military at this point in my career will exponentially increase my impact as I move forward.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? As a sponsored candidate returning to the Navy, I knew I wouldn’t be on the hook financially. However, no other opportunity exists to undergo an intensive long-term program with such an elite and diverse group of individuals. I believe that for someone who is truly ambitious, there’s no question that the investment is worth it – but the onus will be on that individual to fulfill their investment’s potential!

What other MBA programs did you apply to?  HBS and Booth.

How did you determine your fit at various school? I was fortunate enough to visit all of the schools I applied to in the spring before application season. Each school had a distinct flavor with the tours and other events put on for prospective candidates. In the end, I went with the school that seemed like the biggest challenge for me. Coming from the military, I am used to taking charge and directing things to get done in order to accomplish the mission. At Kellogg, my methods will be challenged by the unique collaboration-focused style of learning. I think the best fit for any aspiring MBA candidate is the one that will help them grow the most and address their weaknesses as a leader. This realization became clear to me during the application process – one of Kellogg’s essay questions focused on how I intend to grow at Kellogg.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are?  I have never had such a moment!  Instead, I’ve been shaped through an evolutionary process, gradually learning about myself through successes and failures. However, one moment that sticks out is when I read The Armed Forces Officer, a book first published in 1950 which lays out a foundation for thought, conduct, standards, and duty for U.S. military officers. The authors contend that all good leaders must engage in three things: self-awareness, self-reflection, and self-criticism. This can be applied to all areas of life, not just leadership, and I think back to it often.

What do you plan to do after you graduate?  I will return to the Navy to take on tough problems that my unique Kellogg MBA education will enable me to solve. MBAs are rare in the military, and I’ll bring perspectives and experiences back to the Navy culture that could not be learned anywhere else.

Where do you see yourself in five years? As the Executive Officer of a bomb disposal unit in the Navy, pioneering new ways of doing business and making a lasting impact for our nation’s defense!

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